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Climate Smart Agriculture: Smallholder Adoption and Implications for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation

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Climate Smart Agriculture:
Smallholder Adoption and Implications
for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation
By
Nancy McCarthy, Leslie Lipper and Giacomo Branca
Working paper
October 2011
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Acknowledgments
The authors would like to thank Richard Conant (Colorado State University) and MarjaLiisa
TapioBistrom (FAO) for having read and commented a previous version of this paper.
Additional funding from the World Bank LSMS-ISA group was provided to contribute to
section 3.
This research paper is part of the Mitigation of Climate Change in Agriculture (MICCA)
Programme, FAO, Rome and has received funding from the Government of Finland.
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Table of contents
Abstract ..................................................................................................................................4
1. Overall Context: Climate Change and Agricultural Households ......................................5
2. Overview of Costs and Barriers to Adopting Climate Smart SLM Practices and
Investments .....................................................................................................................7
3. Household-Level Agricultural Practices & Investments: Adaptation and Mitigation .......9
2.1 Agro-forestry .............................................................................................................. 10
2.2 Soil and water conservation .................................................................................... 12
2.3 Grazing Land Management: ................................................................................... 19
4. Project-Based Evidence on Cost Barriers to Climate Smart SLM Adoption ................... 24
5. Concluding Observations............................................................................................... 27
6. References: .................................................................................................................... 28
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Abstract
There are a wide range of agriculture-based practices and technologies that have the potential
to increase food production and the adaptive capacity of the food production system, as well
as reduce emissions or enhance carbon storage in agricultural soils and biomass. However,
even where such synergies exist, capturing them may entail significant costs, particularly for
smallholders in the short-term. In this paper, we provide a brief review of the adaptation and
mitigation benefits from various practices, and then focus in detail on empirical evidence
concerning costs and barriers to adoption, both from household and project-level data.
Findings indicate that up-front investment costs can be a significant barrier to adoption for
certain investments and practices, and furthermore, the evidence also supports the hypotheses
that opportunity and transactions costs across a wide range of investments and practices.
Additionally, potential synergies between food security, adaptation and mitigation
opportunities, as well as costs, can differ substantially across different agro-ecological zones,
climate regimes, and historical land use patterns.
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1. Overall Context: Climate Change and Agricultural Households
Climate change and food security are two of the most pressing challenges facing the global
community today. Improving smallholder agricultural systems is a key response to both. The
latest FAO report estimated that the number of chronically hungry people in the world has
reached a total of 925 million people (FAO, 2010 SOFI). About 75% of the worst-affected
people reside in rural areas of developing countries, their livelihoods depending directly or
indirectly on agriculture (FAO, 2009). Strengthening agricultural production systems is a
fundamental means of improving incomes and food security for the largest group of food
insecure in the world (World Development Report, 2007; Ravallion & Chen, 2007). As the
key economic sector of most low income developing countries, improving the resilience of
agricultural systems is essential for climate change adaptation (Conant, 2009; Parry et al.,
2007; Adger et al., 2003). And, improvements in agricultural production systems offers the
potential to provide a significant source of mitigation by increasing carbon stocks in terrestrial
systems, as well as emissions reductions through increased efficiency ( FAO, 2009; Paustian
et al., 2009; Smith et al., 2008).
Today nearly 1 billion people, out of a world population of 6 billion, live in chronic
hunger (Bruinsma, 2009). Most of these are directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture.
Growth in population is expected to result in even greater pressure on the smallholder
agricultural sector with the largest increases expected in areas of high food insecurity and
dependence on agriculture particularly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa (Schmidhuber &
Tubiello, 2007). At the same time, nearly all researchers conclude that, though average global
crop production may not change dramatically by 2050, certain regions may still see average
production drop and many more are likely to face increased climate variability and extreme
weather shocks even in the near term1 (c.f. IPCC 2001 & 2007; Rosenzweig and Tubiello
2006). With respect to those areas that currently suffer from a high degree of food insecurity,
Lobell et al. (2009) studied the potential crop impacts in 12 food insecure regions of the world
and found that climate change could significantly impact agricultural production and food
security up to 2030 particularly for Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia due to both changes in
mean temperatures and rainfall as well as increased variability associated with both. Changes
1 Antle et al. (1999) simulated changes in dryland grain production in Montana due to projected climate
changes; model results show that impact on mean returns by 2030 were ambiguous (-11% to +6%), but that
variability increased under all scenarios both with and without adaptation scenarios.
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in pest and disease patterns could also significantly impact agricultural production (Lobell
2009). In particular, parts of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to be hardest
hit, with decreases in agricultural productivity between 15-35 percent (Stern Review 2006;
Cline 2007; Fisher et al. 2005; IPCC 2007). And, these are precisely the same regions that
already exhibit high vulnerability to weather shocks, meaning that increasing the adaptive
capacity of agricultural systems of these regions is required not only to meet Millenium
Development Goals in the near future, but also to ensure that such gains are not lost where
negative climate change impacts increase in the future.
Over the last two years, there has been a considerable increase in attention given to the
role the agriculture sector in developing countries must play in order to meet food security
needs and achieve the Millennium Development Goals, culminating in commitments of $20
billion over three years for agriculture sector development. At the same time, the Copenhagen
Accord resulted in commitments for fast track funding approaching $30 billion for the period
2010-2012 and the goal of mobilizing an additional $100 billion annually by 2020 to help
developing countries respond to climate change including both adaptation and mitigation.
These actual and potential increases in financial resources create a critical opportunity to
move agricultural systems in developing countries to more productive and sustainable levels,
while addressing climate change.
However there is also a considerable challenge in achieving an effective use of these
funds. Key gaps in knowledge on the tradeoffs and synergies between food security,
adaptation and mitigation that are generated by various transformation pathways for
smallholder agriculture and the potential impacts of policies on achieving these three
objectives need to be addressed. In particular, as we argue more fully below, very rosy net
present value figures for many sustainable land management (SLM) practices, that increase
carbon sequestration and reduce emissions found in such sources as McKinsey (2008) are not
likely to be relevant in the most developing country contexts, since they do not capture the
significant financing barriers associated with these practices and appear to be seriously
underestimating both direct and indirect costs of adoption.
In addition, knowledge needed to identify key policy and institutional arrangements
that support synergistic smallholder transformations is very thin, as are practical assessments
of the potential for linking mitigation finance to smallholder agricultural transformations. In
this paper, we synthesize the empirical literature on smallholder adoption of SLM practices
that have been promoted to increase yields and reduce yield variability through more resilient
farming systems, and which also produce mitigation benefits, primarily through increased soil
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carbon sequestration. In particular, we highlight empirical evidence on the costs and barriers
to adoption, including opportunity, transactions, and risk costs of adoption. Because of the
vast amount of literature that might be broadly applicable, we focus heavily, though not
exclusively, on empirical evidence from African countries. This work is complemented by a
separate companion piece (Branca, et al. 2011), where we synthesize a wide range of
empirical evidence on the benefits of SLM for food production, adaptation and mitigation.
The remainder of the report is organized as follows. In the second section, we broadly
review the types of costs and barriers that often hinder adoption of SLM techniques and
practices. In the third section, we briefly review the empirical literature on potential climate
change adaptation and mitigation benefits to specific SLM practices and investments for three
broad categories activities (which can and do overlap): Agro-Forestry, Soil and Water
Conservation, and Grazing Land Management. The review of benefits is then followed by an
in-depth review of empirical literature that identifies costs and barriers faced by households.
The household-based evidence often identifies barriers to adoption, but rarely provides
monetary cost figures. In the fourth section, we review project-based information on costs of
implementing various SLM-based projects. In the fifth and final section, we give concluding
observations.
2. Overview of Costs and Barriers to Adopting Climate Smart SLM Practices and
Investments
There are five broad categories of costs/barriers identified in the literature associated with the
adoption of SLM practices and investments; investment costs, variable and maintenance
costs, opportunity costs, transactions costs, and risk costs. Investment costs for SLM include
expenditures on equipment, machinery, or for materials and labour required to build on-farm
structures. Variable and maintenance costs are recurrent expenses needed to either undertake
an SLM practice, such as purchase of seeds, fertilizers or additional hired labour, as well as
periodic costs associated with maintaining SLM structures, and repayments costs where credit
has been obtained. Opportunity costs of own assets are costs associated with allocated own
factors of production to SLM activities, instead of to other uses. In many cases, land
allocated to SLM will have the greatest opportunity costs, but own labour, and as we shall see
below, crop residues may also have relatively high opportunity costs. Returning to land, the
alternative crop income that producers forego in order to adopt certain the SLM practices or
investments, can be quite high in the initial phase of adoption, and can also extend for quite
some period thereafter. Even if opportunity costs are negative over a longer term horizon (say
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20 years), it is important to consider them in the short run as they are certainly an important
barrier to adoption, particularly in subsistence economies where credit markets are absent or
thin. Finally, transactions costs include search, bargaining and negotiation, and monitoring
and enforcement costs. Currently in the empirical literature, search costs associated with
searching for and processing information on various potential SLM techniques that might be
adopted are identified as important barriers to adoption. Additionally, where necessary SLM
inputs or implements are described as not being available, we can consider that the search
costs, including costs of travel, are simply too high to be practicable. With respect to
bargaining and negotiation, while experience with carbon-credit market schemes and
“payments for environmental services” programs is still fairly limited, entering into such
agreements will entail bargaining and negotiation costs, which may be quite high for an
individual farmer. Another often unaccounted for cost to the farmer that would fall under this
category is participation in donor or NGO-funded projects that often require time and
monetary commitments above those associated with the SLM-specific costs. Finally, for
SLM activities that require collective participation such as community-level investments in
trees, agro-forestry, and soil and water conservation structures, or management of communal
pastures monitoring and enforcement costs can also be important factors constraining
adoption at this level. Risk costs, in areas where insurance markets or mechanisms are thin or
imperfect, are generally associated with the uncertainty surrounding the likely benefits as well
as variability in benefits across time that the farmer expects to realize from adopting different
SLM practices. Additionally, insecure tenure arrangements may pose an additional risk that
the farmer who invests in SLM will not retain access long enough to reap a positive return on
investment.
In general, the household-level empirical studies provide evidence for the importance of
investment, variable/maintenance, and opportunity costs, with fewer studies evaluating the
importance of transactions and risk costs. As noted above however, very few household-level
analyses produce monetary estimates of any of these costs. Project-level data, presented in
section four, however, does provide at least some monetary estimates for investment and
variable/maintenance costs, though with limited or no information on opportunity,
transactions or risk costs. Nonetheless estimates for investment and maintenance categories
vary widely depending on the specifics of the situation, reflecting the large differences among
regions, agro-ecological conditions, pre-project land uses and household asset endowments
and the differences in cost structure of the various types of activities considered. Thus, there
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are both pro’s and con’s with each data source, and each on its own may be misleading. For
instance, search and opportunity costs appear to be robustly important factors hindering
adoption across a wide-range of SLM practices, but these costs are not considered in project
data. On the other hand, project data provides us with actual monetary outlays for at least two
important cost categories, and so can give a better picture of the distribution of costs
depending on SLM practice and local context.
3. Household-Level Agricultural Practices & Investments: Adaptation and
Mitigation
There are a number of household agricultural practices and investments that can contribute to
both climate change adaptation, a private benefit, and to mitigating greenhouse gases (GHGs)
a public good. For instance, a striking feature of many “sustainable land management”
practices and investments is that many of these activities also increase the amount of carbon
sequestered in the soil; including agro-forestry investments, reduced or zero tillage, use of
cover crops, and various soil and water conservation structures. Thus, there are often long-
term benefits to households from adopting such activities in terms of increasing yields and
reducing variability of yields, making the system more resilient to changes in climate. Such
activities generate both positive “local” (household-level, and often community-level) net
benefits as well as the global public good of reduced atmospheric carbon. However, adoption
of many SLM practices has been very slow, particularly in food insecure and vulnerable
regions in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. There are a number of potential
explanations for failure to adopt such activities, including: 1) the fact that, though SLM
activities increase productivity in the medium to long run through improved soil
characteristics and water retention, in the short-run, cultivation intensities and yields can
decline (Giller et al., 2009), and yield variability can increase while farmers “learn by doing”
(Zivin & Lipper, 2007). These factors reduce adoption incentives particularly where
information is scarce, and where credit and insurance markets are thin or absent (Antle &
Diagana, 2003), 2) many activities generate local public goods (e.g. windbreaks, terracing and
other water management structures), meaning that local collective action failures will lead to
under-provision of such activities, and 3) tenure insecurity may reduce incentives to make
long-term investments on the land (Place & Otsuka, 2002). Additionally, public goods
benefits generated through these activities are generally not compensated. The above
explanations indicate that financing and risk management instruments, technical information
to “smooth” the adoption process, collective action at the local level, ranging from village to
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watershed and landscape scales, and tenure security should all be key variables that explain
adoption. In the following sections, we discuss in more detail the benefits and costs of
various SLM activities and investments, as well as summarizing factors associated with
successful adoption found in the literature.
2.1 Agro-forestry
Agro-forestry generates adaptation benefits through its impact on reducing soil and water
erosion, improving water management and in reducing crop output variability (Ajayi et al.,
2006; Mercer, 2004; Franzel & Scherr, 2002). Trees and bushes may also yield products that
can either be used for food consumption (fruits), fodder, fuel, building materials, firewood, or
sold for cash, leading to greater average household income, and contributing to household risk
management via reduced income variability (Ajayi et al., 2006; Franzel et al., 2004). Planting
trees and bushes also increases carbon sequestered both above and below ground, thereby
contributing to GHG mitigation (Verchot et al., 2007).
One of the key constraints to widespread adoption identified in the literature is the
availability of a range of suitable tree and bush seedlings and seeds (Ajayi et al., 2006;
Franzel et al., 2004; Phiri et al., 2004; Place et al., 2004; Place & Dewees, 1999). Another
key constraint concerns information and knowledge flows. Information on the types of agro-
forestry options, particularly those well-suited to local conditions, is often scarce; this lack of
information increases the risk of planting expensive perennials that may not survive or
otherwise do poorly (Ajayi et al., 2007; Franzel et al., 2004; Franzel & Scherr, 2002). Thus,
information available to farmers on the types of trees/bushes that are well-adapted to the
locality is likely to be an important determinant of adoption. Information may come from a
number of sources, including government extension programs and NGO/donor programs
promoting the adoption of agro-forestry. Note that since households are rarely “randomly”
selected as participants in such programs and programs may actively select certain
households researchers need to be able to account for both individuals’ decisions to “select
into the project, and for projects’ decisions to “select” individuals with certain characteristics.
Another constraint concerns up-front financing costs and opportunity costs of land taken out
of production when establishing trees and bushes, particularly where benefits are delayed
(Ajayi et al., 2006; Mercer, 2004; Franzel, 1999). Just how binding a cash constraint might
be is obscured by the fact that many projects promoting trees/bush planting in fact provide the
seeds/seedlings for free particularly in East and Southern Africa (Franzel et al., 2004).
Nonetheless, a number of empirical studies find that wealthier households with greater
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landholdings are more likely to adopt agro-forestry, indicating that cash constraints and
opportunity costs of land in the near term are likely to affect adoption decisions (c.f. Phiri et
al., 2004; Kuntashula et al., 2002; Place et al., 2004; Franzel, 1999).
Additional factors constraining adoption include the labor and/or additional investments
required to ensure that they receive sufficient water until roots are firmly established and that
trees/bush seedlings survive (Blanco & Lal, 2008; Franzel et al., 2004). In particular, local
rules and norms regarding livestock grazing and bush-fires can substantially affect the costs
of ensuring seedling survival. For instance, where customary practices allow free-grazing
livestock post-harvest and the use of bush-fires to clear land, costs of protecting seedlings will
be much higher than in communities that have functioning rules concerning grazing practices
and limitations on bush-fires (Ajayi et al., 2006; Franzel et al., 2004; Phiri et al., 2004). Land
tenure may also affect agroforestry investments; however, the relationship in this case may
run in both directions; that is, greater tenure security may promote investments in agro-
forestry, but at the same time, investments in trees and bushes may lead to increased tenure
security (Otsuka & Place, 2001 and references cited therein).
Also, because many agro-forestry investments yield benefits to both the investing farmer as
well as farmers with surrounding fields, such investments will be underprovided where
collective action is weak and/or very costly (Dutilly-Diane et al., 2003; McCarthy et al, 1999).
In addition, providing agro-forestry on communal grazing lands presents a “double” collective
action problem (McCarthy et al., 1999) because incentives to under-provide tend to be even
greater on communal lands that are also over-exploited. Communal grazing lands represent
an important land use in many sub-Saharan African countries, and, though there remains
some disagreement amongst rangeland ecologists as to drivers of degradation (Vetter, 2009;
Ellis & Galvin, 1994), the fact remains that measures to restore degraded lands often include
planting trees and bushes (Dutilly-Diane et al, 2007; Woomer et al., 2004).
To summarize, in terms of benefits, empirical evidence suggests that where gains to
farmers from reducing soil and water erosion are high (e.g. hillsides), where gains from water
management are high (e.g. semi-arid and arid regions) and where climate variability is high,
agro-forestry options are more likely to be adopted. Also, agro-forestry options that yield
multiple benefits in the form of food, fodder and fuel are usually more attractive. In terms of
costs, key cost constraints are summarized in Table 1 below:
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Table 1: Key Costs for Agro-Forestry
Cost Category
Specific costs
Investment
Up-front financing
Variable/Maintenance
Opportunity
Land, and labor during establishment
Transactions
Lack of seedlings in market-shed
Access to Information on plant species and
management
Community rules on burning
Collective Action costs
Negotiation
Monitoring and Enforcement
Risk
Risk of non-survival/poor performance
Tenure Insecurity
2.2 Soil and water conservation
2.2.a Conservation Agriculture (CA).
Conservation agriculture incorporates a wide range of practices aimed at minimizing soil
disturbance, and minimizing bare, uncovered soils (Blanco & Lal, 2008, Chapter 8). FAO
includes crop rotation as an essential component of conservation agriculture .
http://www.fao.org/ag/ca/ Reduced or zero tillage plus incorporation of residues or other
mulches reduces wind and soil erosion, increases water retention, and improves soil structure
and aeration (Blanco & Lal, 2008). Reduced erosion, improved soil structure, and greater
water retention reduce yield variability due to weather events in general. Thus, conservation
tillage practices can increase farm system resilience and improve the capacity of farmers to
adapt to climate change. At the same time, such practices may reduce carbon losses that
occur with ploughing, and also further sequester carbon via residue incorporation and reduced
erosion (Lal, 1987). However, in many circumstances, farmers who adopt such practices still
periodically plough the land (Blanco & Lal, 2008; Maguza et al., 2007). Whereas periodic
ploughing may improve yields without compromising the gains in terms of resilience and
adaptability, such ploughing will release stored carbon. However, there is yet little evidence
on how much carbon would be released (as a fraction of the additional carbon stored during
the period of zero tillage) (Conant et al., 2007).
Following Blanco & Lal (2008), there are a wide range of practices that reduce soil
disturbance in seedbed preparation vis-à-vis conventional tillage. “Conventional-tillage” is
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usually defined as animal or mechanical mouldboard ploughing. Conservation tillage
practices include zero tillage, strip or zonal tillage, and ridge tillage. Zero tillage is as the
name suggests; no mechanical preparation of the seedbed, except for narrow holes for seed
placement (FAO 2008). A “zero-tillage system” generally presupposes that some residue will
be incorporated into the plot. In strip or zonal tillage systems, the seedbed is divided
between seeding zones that are prepared mechanically or by hand-hoe only where seeds will
be planted, and zones that are not ploughed. The undisturbed portion should also be mulched.
Finally the use of “planting pits”, where small holes are dug and seeds deposited, are often
used in semi-arid areas prone to crusting, in order to retain moisture and build soil fertility
(Imbraimo and Munguambe, 2007; Roose et al., 1993). This practice also disturbs the soil less
than conventional ploughing (Imbraimo and Munguambe, 2007). In summary, as noted in
FAO (2008), “minimum tillage” may take on different meanings in different contexts, which
has led to some difficulty in comparing across different empirical assessments.
Incentives for individual farmers to undertake these practices will, of course, be a function
of the marginal benefits of doing so. One of the key benefits affecting adoption of zero-
tillage in many developed countries is the fact that fuel costs for tractors are significantly
reduced. However, in the African context, very few farmers rely on fuel-based tractors or
machinery to prepare the fields; Giller et al. (2009) point out that this may be a key reason
behind limited adoption of such practices in sub-Saharan Africa vis-a-vis Latin America.
Often, conservation tillage projects promote the use of specialized planting tools and other
implements which are often not easily available in the area or are prohibitively expensive; this
has been found to be a barrier to adoption in many African countries (Giller, et al., 2009;
Shetto & Owenya, 2007 and the three case studies found therein; Boahen et al., 2007;
Baudron et al., 2007; Bishop-Sambrook et al., 2004). Where herbicides are not accessible,
increased labor required for weeding can also reduce the net benefits of zero tillage (Giller et
al. 2009; Shetto & Owenya, 2007 and the three case studies found therein; Boahen et al.,
2007); though, as discussed below, cover crops and crop rotations can also be used to reduce
weeds. Agro-ecological characteristics, such as soils and climate, can be important, though
there is limited evidence in the empirical literature on which factors have consistent impacts
on adoption. One key characteristic appears to be the drainage capacity of the soils; poorly
drained soils may have relatively low benefits compared to well-drained soils at least in the
short-medium term (up to five years) due to increased soil compaction in these early years,
before the benefits to soil structure from zero tillage is realized (Blanco & Lal, 2008). There
is also some evidence that in the semi-arid regions where termites are abundant, surface
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mulch will be eaten by the termites (Sanginga & Woomer, 2009, Chapter 10) limiting benefits
to conservation agriculture. Generally, both private and public good benefits to CA should be
greater on lands with more highly erodible soils and steeper slopes (Blanco & Lal, 2010; Uri,
1997).
Additionally, crop residues are used for a variety of purposes; as feed for livestock, as fuel
for cooking, and as thatching/craft material. The greater these competing uses and the more
costly are substitutes, the less likely will crop residues be left on the field. In many cases, it is
long-standing customary practice to allow animals to graze fields post-harvest (Giller et al.,
2009; Bishop-Sambrook et al., 2004; McCarthy, 2004). While animals do not remove all of
the residue, such grazing may leave too little residue to adequately cover the field, and
grazing can be sufficiently heavy to compact the soil, making planting with zero-tillage more
difficult (Bot & Benites, 2005).
Finally, in many cases, the full benefits in terms of higher and more stable yields will not
be realized for four years or more, whereas costs will be incurred up front (Blanco & Lal,
2008; Hobbs et al., 2008; Bot & Benites, 2001; Sorrenson, 1997). Households with limited
resources facing credit constraint will thus find it much more difficult to adopt conservation
agriculture techniques, especially where initial investments are relatively high. Risks may
also be greater initially where farmer’s need to learn new practices and techniques and adapt
them to on-farm conditions (Graf-Zivin & Lipper, 2008). As with many agroforestry
techniques, several proposed conservation agriculture systems require greater management
skills than traditional systems, so farmers not only need to learn a new system but also a more
sophisticated system (Sanginga & Woomer, 2009; Bot & Benites, 2001). Farmers’ perceived
risks of adopting conservation practices has been identified as a key constraint to adoption in
the African context, and study results suggest the key role that can be played by extension (or
other information sources) in reducing these risks (Bot & Benites, 2001; Dreschel et al. 2008;
Wondwossen Tsegaye et al., 2008). And, given the long-term nature of benefits accruing to
these practices, security of tenure may also influence the adoption of such practices, to the
extent that greater security increases incentives to invest for the long-run increases in yields
and greater yield stability (Bot & Benites, 2001; Steiner, 1998); however, there is limited
consistent empirical evidence on the tenure impacts per se (Mercer, 2004).
To summarize, benefits in terms of greater yields and yield stability are more likely to be
higher in sub-humid regions on soils with relatively good drainage, and where soil erosion is a
significant problem, e.g. in hilly areas. Key costs are summarized in Table 2 below:
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Table 2: Key Costs for Conservation Agriculture
Cost Category
Specific costs
Investment
Machinery/Implement costs
Availability of credit
Variable/Maintenance
Weed control costs, e.g. herbicides
Opportunity
Family labor for weeding
Crop residues for animal feed/fuel
Transactions
Access to Information on conservation
agriculture management
Community rules on animal grazing post-
harvest
Risk
Risk of poor yield performance
Tenure Insecurity
2.2.b Cropping Patterns: Cover Crops, Intercrops, Improved Fallows & Alley Crops.
In addition to seedbed preparation, various cropping patterns can also serve to improve soil
and water conservation characteristics; cover crops and rotation patterns can also alleviate
potential weed problems where herbicides are not available or accessible to poor
smallholders. Alley cropping between cover crops provides similar benefits to those
described above for alley cropping with agro-forestry systems; continuous cover between
main crops can reduce erosion, build soil organic matter, and improve the water balance,
leading to higher and more stable yields on the alleys sown to main crops (Blanco & Lal,
2008). Cover crops or improved fallows ensure that the soil is not left bare after harvest.
Leaving residues on the field is one method of covering the soil, discussed above. Cover
crops, on the other hand, are either additional crops planted on the field post-harvest or can
also be crops inter-cropped with the main crop (usually the case where there is a single,
relatively short rainy season, e.g. in the semi-arid regions of the Sahel) (Blanco & Lal, 2008;
Bot & Bonites, 2001). Improved fallows generally mean the deliberate planting of fast-
growing species, usually legumes, that produce easily decomposable biomass and replenish
soil fertility (Matata et al., 2010; Sanchez, 1999). The point is both to keep cropland covered
during the entire year, and in the case of improved fallows, to increase soil fertility. With
intercropping, the type of species and the timing of intercropping need to be carefully
assessed in order to ensure minimum competition with the main crop (Bishop-Sambrook et
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al., 2004). An additional benefit from continuous crop cover is reduction in weeding and pest
control, at least after some period; in fact many authors note that where adoption has been
substantial, weed suppression has been perceived by farmers to be the main benefit (Tarawali,
1999; Erenstein, 1999). In terms of soil sequestration, cover crops and improved fallows can
increase soil carbon particularly when combined with zero or minimum tillage (Govaerts et
al., 2009; Bot & Bonites, 2001; FAO, 2001). In terms of adaptation, such practices can
reduce erosion and enhance water retention, both of which should enhance resilience to
drought (Conant, 2009; Peterson & Westfall, 2004). Additionally, land under cover crops
can reduce soil surface temperature significantly, which may be beneficial particularly in
drought years under high temperatures (Lal, 1987).
A number of cover crops and improved fallow crops have had at least partial success in
many African contexts. These include leguminous cover crops such as cowpea, pigeon pea,
lablab purpureus, and mucuna pruriens (velvet bean) as well as improved fallows seeded with
fast-growing tree species such as sesbania sesbans and gliricidia sepium. There are a number
of factors associated with the successful adoption of cover crops and improved fallows, and
many of these overlap with conservation tillage and residue practices noted above,
particularly the ability to keep community animals from foraging on the land (Matata et al.
2010; Bishop-Sambrook et al., 2004; Ajayi et al., 2003). The availability of cover crop seeds
has also been singled out as an important barrier to widespread and continued adoption
(Morse & McNamara, 2003; Tarawali et al., 1999; Steiner, 1998).
Climate may also affect adoption both directly and indirectly. Woodfine (2009) discusses
potential benefits (at least in the near term) of bare fallow versus improved fallow with a
cover crop that arise due to relatively greater soil moisture storage in arid regions where
biomass production of the cover crop is relatively low. However, Peterson & Westfall (2004)
document increases from use of cover crops in income and food security in semi-arid regions.
Additionally, improved fallows that generate sufficient biomass to both cover the ground and
provide livestock feed are more likely to occur in higher rainfall areas leading to higher
incentives to adopt in these areas (Steiner, 1998). The longer the length of growing season,
the more likely it is that cover crops can be seeded to minimize competition with staple food
crops, and to spread labour requirements (Vissoh et al., 1998).
Population pressure and the need for continuous cultivation have also been found to
increase adoption of cover crops (Vissoh et al., 1998; Ehui et al., 1989); however, other
studies have found that high population pressures have instead led to abandonment of cover
crops and severe land degradation (Cleaver and Schreiber, 1992). And, where weed and pests
McCarthy et al. 2011 DO NOT CITE
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problems are greater (e.g. invasive species such as imperata cylindrica and striga h. in West
Africa), the higher should be the marginal benefits to cover crops (at least in later years),
particularly where zero or minimum tillage is also practiced (Erenstein, 1999; and case studies
contained in Buckles et al. (eds.), 2000). As with conservation agriculture more generally,
use of cover crops often requires access to specialized planting implements, since seeds will
be planted directly into fields under the cover crop. Improved fallows that require land to be
fallowed for two or more years to in order to provide soil fertility benefits are less likely to be
successful where opportunity costs of land are high and farmer discount rates are high, as is
often the case with poorer households with limited landholdings (c.f. Matata et al., 2010).
To summarize, agro-ecological conditions are likely to be very important in determining
the benefits to cover crops and improved fallows; these include rainfall patterns, length of
growing season and high average temperatures during key growth stages. Additionally, the
the presence of invasive species generally increases benefits from cover crops, but reduces the
benefits of improved fallows. Benefits are also likely to be relatively higher in drought-prone
areas, and on highly erodible soils. Key costs are summarized in Table 3 below:
Table 3: Key Costs for Cover Crops and Improved Fallows
Cost Category
Specific costs
Investment
Specialized planting implements
Variable/Maintenance
Opportunity
Land, for improved fallows
Transactions
Availability of locally adapted seeds
Access to Information on cover
crop/improved fallow management
Community rules on animal grazing post-
harvest
Risk
Risk of reduced yields due to competititon
between cover and main crops, particularly
in areas with short growing seasons
2.2.c Soil & Water Conservation Structures/Investments:
There a number of fixed investments in structures for soil and water conservation, in addition
to some of the agro-forestry investments discussed above. For the farmer, these structures can
provide benefits by reducing water erosion, improving water quality, and promoting the
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formation of natural terraces over time, all of which should lead to higher and less variable
yields (Blanco & Lal, 2008). Such structures also often provide benefits to neighbours and
downstream water users by mitigating flooding, enhancing biodiversity, and reducing
sedimentation of waterways (Blanco & Lal, 2008). Structures include contour bunds built
of either earth or stone – to reduce runoff velocity and soil loss. Blanco & Lal (2008) note
such bunds are appropriate for permeable soils on gentle to moderately sloping lands, may
form the basis for terraces on steeply sloped land, and may reduce further gully erosion when
built above and across gullies. However, Showers (2005) also shows that contour bunds can
lead to significant increase in gully erosion on poorly drained soils subject to heavy rainfall
events. Terraces also provide water conservation and reduced soil erosion benefits; Blanco &
Lal (2008) state that these benefits will be greater when undertaken in conjunction with other
structures such as grassed waterways and drainage channels both of which mitigate potential
problems with waterlogging.
As with agro-forestry, soil and water conservation structures often entail large up-front
costs, with benefits accruing sometimes slowly over time. Additional costs include land
taken out of production (Blanco & Lal, 2008; Showers, 2005), and in certain cases (e.g. stone
bunds), both initial construction and annual maintenance can entail heavy labor requirements
that may be especially costly to households with few prime-age adults.
Finally, it should be noted that there remains debate in the literature regarding the benefits
of these options, particularly where design and construction of such structures does not take
into account local conditions (Showers, 2005). For instance, Dutilly-Diane et al. (2003)
found that farmers in semi-arid northeastern Burkina Faso who had invested in stone bunds
had lower yields in high rainfall years, due to water drainage problems. Because the Sahel
had experienced drought conditions starting in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s, the focus had
been on structures that retain water; however, as built, these structures lead to lower yields
when high rainfall does occur. Herwig & Ludi (1999) found similar disadvantages to
waterlogging in sub-humid regions of Ethiopia and Eritrea; these authors also found that,
despite significant reductions in soil erosion and runoff, yields were not significantly higher.
In recent years, a number of researchers have pointed out the largely failed attempts at
promoting soil and water conservation in sub-Saharan Africa (and elsewhere); these authors
claim that for such measures to be successful, they must be designed, adapted and tested in
conjunction with local farmers (Showers, 2005; Hincliffe et al. 2005). Hincliffe et al. (2005)
claim that there are very few projects where these structures are maintained after the project is
over; information on previous soil & water conservation projects would be particularly
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important to actually empirically verify this assertion. Additionally, these authors argue that
few generalizations can be made to “scale-up” these measures without fairly intensive and
expensive – participatory research programs at a very local level. Nonetheless, there remains
a dearth of empirical evidence.
To summarize, soil and water conservation structures are more likely to produce relatively
high benefits in mountainous areas where farming occurs on the slopes, where benefits to
water retention are relatively great (e.g. more arid lands), and potentially where gully and rill
problems have already surfaced. Such structures will yield lower net benefits, and perhaps
lead to greater yield variability, where potential waterlogging problems cannot be managed at
reasonable costs. The latter indicates that incidence of extreme high rainfall events may
reduce incentives to invest in structures that nonetheless increase water retention in dry years.
Key costs for soil and water conservation structures are given in Table 4 below.
Table 4: Key Costs for Soil and Water Conservation Structures
Cost Category
Specific costs
Investment
High up-front financing costs
High up-front labor costs for construction
Variable/Maintenance
Maintenance materials
Opportunity
Household labor, for construction and
maintenance
Land, where structures take some land out of
production
Transactions
Access to information and evidence on
benefits to such structures, and suitability
for local environment
Collective Action costs, where high benefits
could be realized from coordinated or
collective action
Risk
Risk of reduced yields, particularly in high
rainfall years where structures mainly built
to conserve water
Tenure Insecurity
2.3 Grazing Land Management:
The vast majority of agricultural land in sub-Saharan Africa (and indeed, the world) is in
rangelands. Rangelands include grasslands, bush, and woodland, and can include croplands
where these are grazed after harvest (Homewood, 2004). Rangeland is particularly important
in the arid and semi-arid regions, and there is a (rough) estimate of 12.8 million km2 in sub-
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Saharan Africa (Le Houerou, 2006), of an estimated arable area 23.8 million km2
(Nachtergaele, 2000). Over 6 million km2 are in hyper-arid regions, some of which are still
periodically used for grazing and/or cultivation (Nachtergaele, 2000). Also, about half of the
arable area is in forested land, and about 2 million km2 is in protected areas, meaning that
grazing land area is far greater than actual land used, which was estimated at just 1.5 M km2
in 1998 (Nachtergaelr, 2000). In terms of mitigation, many studies have suggested rangelands
could be a significant source of carbon sinks, mainly due to the large land area covered as
opposed to amount that could be sequestered per unit area (Smith et al., 2007; Conant &
Paustian, 2002; Lal, 2002). In fact, the fourth IPCC assessment reports that “grazing land
management” has the second highest technical potential to mitigate carbon (Smith et al.,
2007). More interestingly, the widely-cited McKinsey report not only provides very large
potential sequestration estimates, but also reports negative net costs of achieving those
benefits, where net costs are calculated over a 20 year time horizon.
The number one reason given for increased carbon emissions and loss of soil carbon
sequestered on degraded rangelands is overgrazing, and so eliminating or moderating grazing
intensities is proposed to increase carbon sequestered on these rangelands (Batjes, 2004;
Conant & Paustian, 2002; Nachtergaele, 2000). However, another line of researchers claim
that grazing intensities have limited impact on rangeland vegetation and productivity; this
claim is generally associated with the “non-equilibrium theory” of rangeland dynamics school
of thought2 (c.f. Niamir-Fuller, 1999, chapter 9). Even within that school, it has been
recognized that grazing densities could affect replenishment of seed banks when it occurs
during critical phases of the growing cycle, e.g. before the grasses/forages seed (c.f. Hiernaux,
1993). More recent work trying to tease out the effects of grazing intensities from rainfall
events on vegetation productivity indicate that both are important, particularly in the semi-
arid and sub-humid environments (Vetter, 2009; Wessels, 2007; Vetter, 2005). On the one
hand, in the arid and hyper-arid regions, grazing intensities might simply never be high
enough to cause much damage, so that climate would be the key driving factor, as posited by
the “non-equilibrium” school. On the other hand, Derner & Schuman (2007) find that
increased carbon sequestration results from reduced stocking densities only in the semi-arid
regions (<440-600mm). Taken together, these results suggest that sequestration benefits from
2 According to the non-equilibrium theory, livestock grazing has a limited effect on long-term vegetation
productivity of semi-arid and arid rangelands, which is instead largely determined by rainfall.
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reduced grazing are likely to be greatest where rainfall ranges between 150-440mm. One
possible reason for the hard-to-interpret results may be because the response of the rangeland
to decreased grazing intensity may also be a function of past grazing history as well as
underlying agro-ecological conditions (Shrestha et al., 2005; Tennikeit & Wilkes, 2008;
Smith et al., 2008). Additionally, many rangeland rehabilitation programs are aimed at
reducing encroachment of invasive species, mainly non-edible bushes, which are also often
seen as a sign of overgrazing. Removing these, often through burning, can lead to increased
emissions in the short term, as well as lower carbon sequestration where these inedible bushes
are not replaced with edible vegetation. In general, then, there remains a great deal of
uncertainty over where and whether reduced grazing intensities reduce emissions and/or
increase carbon sequestered, unless such measures are coupled with other activities to
increase “good” plant biomass, reduced erosion and reforestation, as detailed in Woomer et al.
2004.
In terms of adaptation, grazing land management benefits are similar to those for cropland
management; better soil quality and structure and better water management improves the
capacity of rangelands to continue supporting livestock even under extreme weather events.
Moderate grazing intensities may lead to reduced variability in overall livestock production,
and increase the ability of herds to “bounce-back” after drought, though there is little long-
term data to support that hypotheses (though c.f. Ellis, 1997; McCarthy, 1999). In addition to
moderating grazing intensities, rangeland improvements include many of the activities listed
above under agro-forestry (silvopastoralism) and soil & water conservation structures that
lead to both increased carbon sequestration as well as increased resilience.
In terms of cost, the first issue that arises is that costs will be borne immediately, while
benefits will not be realized until some future time. Credit constraints will again be
important. Restoration practices that require excluding livestock for some period of time are
likely to be very expensive, and very difficult to enforce (Dutilly-Diane et al., 2007; Badini et
al., 2007). In essence, the choice between “working lands” restoration projects and changing
land use (to exclude all livestock) will be a function of the trade-offs between maintaining
livelihoods currently, the discount rate and risk preferences, and the rate of increase in
productivity from exclusion (Wu et al., 2001). In the Sahelian context, Le Houerou (2006)
argues that controlled access and limiting grazing intensities may produce better results,
though such management plans will likely entail greater costs of enforcement (Lipper et al.,
2010).
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Unlike agro-forestry and investments in soil & water conservation structures that can
provide both private & public benefits (when undertaken on both private and public land),
controlling grazing intensities reduces a negative externality from use of communal grazing
lands; and these lands characterize much of rangelands in sub-Saharan Africa. Incentives to
provide a public good (non-rivalrous, non-excludable) are often qualitatively different from
incentives to reduce a negative externality arising from shared use of a communal resource
(rivalrous, non-excludable) (c.f. Dasgupta & Heal, 1979; Cornes & Sandler, 1986), and are
likely to require a greater degree of collective cohesiveness. Thus, the capacity to engage in
collective action required to manage grazing land is likely to be higher than that for both
private and collective investments in agro-forestry and soil & water conservation structures.
Additionally, use of communal pastures in many sub-Saharan African countries often
includes rights of transhumants to use these pastures; and by the same token, community
members can often migrate to other grazing lands (McCarthy, 2004; Niamir-Fuller (ed),
1999). Pressure on local grazing land is thus also a function of both others’ rights to access
these lands as well as community members’ capacity to move to access non-community
resources. Enclosures and grazing restriction rules may pose even greater costs of
establishment and enforcement when traditional users include not only locals, but non-locals
as well.
At the community level, poorly managed communal grazing land may lead to
encroachment by those who wish to cultivate crops. Results in McCarthy (2004) show that
encroachment as a response to poorly managed communal grazing land can be significant. As
noted above, switching land use from grazing land to crops often leads to carbon emissions.
Also, to the extent that well managed pastures are more resilient to extreme weather events
than are crops, failures in collective management will also lead to reduced adaptive capacity
(Goodhue & McCarthy, 2009; Niamir-Fuller (ed), 1999). Finally, we can raise the issue of
property rights so prominent in the climate change as well as other strands of literature. As
noted above, in systems where livestock owners move in response to different weather events
as well as other transactions costs, more flexible access rights enable livestock owners to
make the best use of available resources (Sandford, 1982; Coppock, 1994; Niamir-Fuller,
1999). The ability to “weather” weather shocks, where the main input is mobile, will depend
on access rights to various resources. Here, ambiguous, ill-defined rights may well help
livestock owners to absorb weather (and other) shocks (Goodhue & McCarthy, 2009;
McCarthy & Di Gregorio, 2007). But, the trade-offs include both overgrazing in “good”
times, and under-provision of public goods such as agro-forestry and soil & water
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conservation investments as well as management of invasive species. Insurance values are
likely to dominate where climate events are more variable both in temporal and spatial scales;
negative impacts from overgrazing and under-provision of investments are more likely to
dominate where population pressures are high and heterogeneity amongst users is high
(McCarthy et al., 1999; Turner, 1999).
To summarize, increasing carbon and resilience of grazing lands in Africa is likely to entail
the need for collective action, not only amongst community members but also by others with
secondary or tertiary rights of access. Benefits are only likely to be realized with both
reduced grazing intensity (mitigating the “tragedy of the commons”) and increased
investments on communal grazing lands (provision of public goods). The literature is rather
divided on exactly where benefits to livestock owners are likely to be higher in terms of
pasture productivity and resilience, though these are likely to be relatively higher in the semi-
arid regions on highly erodible soils. Table 5 presents the key costs for grazing land
management.
Table 5: Key Costs for Grazing Land Management
Cost Category
Specific costs
Investment
High up-front financing costs for
conservation structures
High up-front labor costs for construction
Variable/Maintenance
Maintenance materials
Opportunity
Land, particularly where grazing exclusions
are pursued for a number of years
Transactions
Access to information and evidence on
benefits for SLM on grazing lands
Collective Action costs, both for realizing
public investments on common grazing
lands and in reducing negative externalities
Managing access by those with secondary
and tertiary access rights
Risk
Fewer options to exercise livestock mobility
in response to climate variables, where
grazing exclusions or restrictions adopted
Tenure Insecurity
Uncertain gains in productivity from
exclusions and restrictions
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4. Project-Based Evidence on Cost Barriers to Climate Smart SLM Adoption
In this section, we review empirical evidence on investment and maintenance costs
from agro-forestry, soil and water conservation, and grazing land projects. As noted in the
previous section, agro-forestry systems have great potential to diversify food and income
sources, improve land productivity and to stop and reverse land degradation, but their
establishment can be quite costly, with high labour costs for land preparation (which vary
largely according to slope and/or depending on the system used to protect natural
regeneration) and planting as well as input costs for purchasing tree seedlings, cuttings or
nursery plants and fertilizers. On the other hand, maintenance costs are relatively low (Liniger
et al. 2011).
Conservation Agriculture (CA) often requires substantial initial investments but the
range of costs can be very wide, depending on the investment type: from zero (e.g. if the
hand-based planting method is adopted) to very high (e.g. to buy a special no-till drill to
simultaneously seed and fertilize annual crops). In certain cases, agronomic measures have
negligible establishment costs (e.g. green manuring or compost production) but can involve
opportunity costs. For example, systems that require terracing generally incur high labour
costs for the construction of terraces (which vary depending on the slope and the number of
barriers needed, the distance to the material and the level of mechanization). They can also
involve opportunity costs associated with loss of planted area. The construction of vegetative
strips requires less working days and can provide a cost-saving alternative to terracing.
Establishing water harvesting structures may be costly but these technologies are often easy to
maintain and represent a common practice worldwide. Soil and water conservation structures
require relatively high up-front costs in terms of labour and/or purchased inputs (Amsalu & de
Graaf 2007, Mati 2005, Liniger et al. 2011).
Grazing land improvement is often based on enclosures and planting of improved
grass and fodder trees to enhance fodder and consequently livestock production. After initial
significant one-off investment costs, maintenance costs decrease substantially as the grass
cover closes up and maintenance activities such as replanting are reduced or cease (Wocat
2007, Liniger 2011). However as discussed in previous sections, the opportunity costs can be
quite significant.
Table 6 presents some examples of project-level estimates of up-front establishment
and maintenance costs associated with the adoption of SLM practices. The data in the table
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are taken from different sources and thus there is variation in the method of cost calculation,
implying that comparison between them is not possible. However some striking conclusions
can be drawn in any case. Perhaps most striking is that maintenance costs can be quite high
for a number of these practices, which indicates that it is indeed important to verify significant
returns from such systems to ensure viability. In contrast, there are several activities that have
relatively low establishment costs, indicating that financing to overcome this barrier at a
larger scale could actually be feasible even within existing resource pools.
Table 6: Examples of investment and maintenance costs of SLM options
Establishment
costs
Average
mainte nance
costs
Intensive agroforestry system (high input, grass
barriers, contour ridging), Colombia
Medium-scale no-till technology for wheat and barley
farming, Morocco
Improved pasture
management
Grassland restoration and conservation, Qinghai
province, China (1)
Various agro-
forestry practices
Conservation
agriculture (CA)
Improved agronomic
practices
Improved grazing
management
Soil and water
conservation
Agro-forestry
Improved pasture
and grazing
management
(1) Project estimates
Technology
options
Practices
Case study
Integrated nutrient
management
However once we look into opportunity costs, the picture changes somewhat, although the
relative dearth of information on opportunity costs confines this analysis to a few examples.
Cacho et al. 2003 computes the opportunity costs of implementing different agro forestry
systems (rubber, cinnamon, dammar, oil palm) that are common in the island of Sumatra
(Indonesia). Opportunity costs are estimated using the Net Present Value (NPV) of switching
land use from cassava to agro-forestry on degraded land. Results show that such costs are
positive for damar, oil palm and rubber (ranging between 72.46 $/ha and 132.35 $/ha) and
negative for cinnamon (-78.99 $/ha). Only the cinnamon agro-forestry system is profitable in
the short as well as long run. All other systems are profitable only in the long-run.
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The length of the loss period depends of course on various factors, including the
profitability of the alternative practice with respect to the conventional management, agro-
ecological and soil fertility conditions. It also depends on the size of the farm or enterprise
involved. For example, in the same study on agro-forestry systems in Indonesia, Cacho et al
(2003) found that with agro-forestry adoption on more productive land all systems are
attractive at a real discount rate of 15 per cent (with NPVs ranging from $173/ha to $1,621/ha
and with oil palm providing the highest profit, followed by damar agro forestry). However
the number of years required for smallholders to obtain a positive cash flow ranges between 5
and 15, indicating a much larger opportunity cost burden than for large enterprises (income
loss of switching from previous systems to agro-forestry).
Data on improved grazing management from Qinghai China (reduced stocking and
improved winter feeding) also indicates the variation in opportunity costs by size of herd, as
shown in Table 7.
Table 7: An example of opportunity costs of implementing improved grazing
management practices
Baseline net
income
NPV/HA over 20
years
No years to positive
cash flow
No of years to positive
incremental net income
compared to baseline
net income
($/ha/yr) ($/ha) (number of years) (number of years)
Small 14.42 118 5 10
Medium 25.21 191 1 4
Large 25.45 215 1 1
Source: Wilkes 2011
Size of herd
Although implementing improved grazing management practices is found to be profitable for
all households over a 20 year time frame (NPV calculated at 12% is always positive),
households with small herds are found to bear higher opportunity costs than households with
medium and large herds. In fact, the number of years needed to obtain positive incremental
net income compared to baseline net income goes from 1 (large herd size) to 10 (small herd
size).
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5. Concluding Observations
While there are a number of factors that have been identified to hinder adoption of
sustainable land management techniques that yield both climate change adaptation and
mitigation benefits, a few stand out for all techniques. First, since the point of most such
techniques is to improve soil quality (structure, fertility, water regulation), the benefits are
often not appreciable until five years or more, but costs are borne immediately. These costs
include opportunity costs of labor and land, as well as up-front cash outlays that many poor
farmers simply cannot afford given thin credit markets and in many cases they are the group
facing the highest opportunity costs. Second, there is often limited information and
experience with alternative techniques that hinders adoption, particularly given insurance
markets that are even more thin or non-existent than credit markets. Third, even where
farmers might invest in certain techniques, inputs are often not available in local markets.
Fourth, community norms and rules regarding livestock and bush fires often make it much
more costly to employ such techniques. And finally, communal forests and pastures require
collective action both to provide public goods (e.g. agro-forestry and investments in soil and
water conservation) and to reduce negative externalities from overuse (overstocking,
deforestation). When costs of collective action are high, both under-provision of public
goods and overuse will result.
In other cases, factors affecting adoption rates are more specific to the technique. For
conservation agriculture programs that promote use of crop residues, the opportunity costs of
those residues is an important determinant of adoption. The costs of managing weeds is also
important, and depends on the availability and costs of herbicides, the opportunity costs of
labor, and/or the efficacy of cover crops in reducing the weed problem. The net benefits of
certain soil and water conservation structures in specific environments are difficult to assess
generally, and these benefits are often simply not known with any precision at local levels.
Net benefits to different grazing management schemes will also differ depending on land use
history, underlying agro-ecological characteristics, and the opportunity costs of taking lands
out of production.
The bottom line is that promoting various sustainable land management techniques is
going to be more costly than some of the figures currently being bandied about in the climate
change literature. For those who have been looking at adoption of sustainable land
management techniques, this will come as no surprise. On the other hand, the agriculture
sector has been neglected for many years but is now back on the “development agenda”. The
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hope is that climate change adaptation and mitigation funds can be leveraged with agriculture-
sector specific funds to develop “climate-smart” agriculture development, bearing in mind the
empirical lessons learned discussed in this paper.
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... Initial investment in technologies and the excessively long payback period have an impact on users, who must accept a temporal asymmetry between the costs and benefits derived from adoption (del Río Gonzalez 2005;Long et al. 2016). PA implementation requires high costs, such as transaction, switching, training and information costs, which might be onerous, especially for small farms (Feder et al. 1985;McBride and Daberkow 2003b;McCarthy et al. 2011). Of course, the size of these costs depends on the profile of the technology to be adopted; this raises the question of the "best fitting" technological solution related to farms' crop orientation. ...
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